Trump's UN migrant nominee has a record to put his petty critics to shame

Trump's UN migrant nominee has a record to put his petty critics to shame
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When the Battle of Mosul was underway, Americans went about their lives as usual, maybe catching an update here and there on CNN or in their local paper. Not Ken Isaacs.

Two months into the dangerous but critical mission to liberate the region from the grip of ISIS, Isaacs left the comfort and safety of home to open a field hospital for wounded Iraqis and Kurds at the fringe of the fighting. There was no religious test at the doors. Within two months of opening, the volunteer hospital served more than 1,000 wounded, Muslim and Christian alike. For his courageous service, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from Health Outreach to the Middle East.

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The Battle of Mosul marked a pivotal shift towards success in the global effort to defeat ISIS, a struggle that knows no borders and makes no distinctions between religion and race. It also characterizes the lifelong work of Isaacs, who has spent decades entering disaster and war zones to bind wounds and bring aid to people of all ethnicities and faiths. While Isaacs is a committed Christian and points to his faith as the impetus for his life’s work, he risks his life for all. This too, he would tell you, is an essential part of bearing witness to Christianity’s radical claim that all have inherent dignity in the eyes of God.

And so The Washington Post’s recent editorial arguing that Isaacs, the Trump administration’s nominee to head a billion dollar U.N.- affiliated agency on migrant aid, would be a “narrow-minded” “embarrassment” to the United States seems particularly off-key.

Isaac’s career of global public service is so extensive, it can hardly be contained in one page.

He led the U.S. government relief response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan while head of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Before that, he ran relief efforts for a major aid charity in Rwanda after its civil war, where he reestablished the first and only functioning hospital in the country and cared for 1,000 orphans.

When Sudan was in the middle of its civil war, he also oversaw aid and established hospitals for the people under siege in southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. Because of his work there, he has the support of the legendary Dr. Tom Catena, an American missionary doctor whose work has been profiled in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and TIME, among others.

He also led aid response efforts in Nepal after it was struck by deadly earthquakes and aided refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.

These are just a few of the extraordinary missions he has led to bring aid to the most vulnerable, desperate, and embattled people on the planet. None of that seems particularly narrow-minded or embarrassing.

The United Nations knows a thing or two about embarrassment, though. Currently, the global body is struggling to dig itself out of a series of sexual abuse scandals, just one of many failures and scandals it has left in its wake. USA Today, for example, ran a headline just last month on the inability of U.N. officials to “stem rapes by peacekeepers” in Africa.

That is an embarrassment worthy of a Washington Post editorial. Instead, the Post focuses its energies on smearing a man whose career is characterized by lovingly and bravely responding to the most urgent scenes of mass devastation around the globe, a man who boasts the support of public figures like Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times.

To try and paint as a narrow-minded bigot a man who has risked his life for people of all ethnicities and faiths in Sudan, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Honduras, El Salvador, Kosovo, Turkey, and Afghanistan, Haiti, Japan, the Philippines, Nepal, Iraq, North Korea, and Myanmar is so petty it’s almost laughable.

Except it isn’t, because people suffering all around the world need aid and they need good and honest men like Ken Isaacs to help deliver it. Pope Francis famously exhorted Christians to make the church like a field hospital to the world. Ken Isaacs builds them, literally. Pope Francis asked Christians to go to the margins, to the very ends of the earth. Ken Isaacs goes there, day in and day out. The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration will not find a better man for the job.

Ashley McGuire is a Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association, and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.”